Fischer, James E. (2005). Propaganda and the Internet . UMI: Ann Arbor, Michigan (UMI #3159672). 

The Internet has become the dominant source for information for billions of people all over the world. All other media sources are dwarfed by this growing technology. The rate of growth and uses of this technology to gain new and old information has been phenomenal over the past three decades. Not all information available to the users and consumers is accurate or easy to verify for accuracy; thus, the Internet has become a very rich and fertile ground for propagandists to spread false and untested theories, that people tend to believe in and rely on information as they process it based upon their upbringings and biological hardwiring.

James Fischer has been a career intelligence officer and specialist in the US Army. Having several years of field experience in the art of collecting intelligence data and academic research training, he has produced one of the most interesting studies in the field of Internet propaganda. This study is based upon his original research for a Ph.D. dissertation completed at Northcentral University in Arizona in 2004. This reviewer was privileged to serve on his dissertation committee.

According to Fischer, Internet has become a very significant tool for the dissemination of disinformation among state and corporation actors to influence, sway and modify public opinion according to their intended objectives. This tool has become as an effective double-edged instrument for propagandists in changing opinion and behavior of the intended users. First to promote their ideas or marketing of goods through emotional agitation and through exploitation of personal insecurities and second, to defend their actions or inactions to enhance the mission of their organization.

In order to verify the generally acceptable seven common propaganda devices and their uses, James Fischer conducted an empirical research of implementing four distinct opinion surveys of print journalists in all 50 states in the US. The reasons for selecting newsprint journalists were based upon the facts that they possess formal education, have command of the language, actively use the language for their professional growth and finally the computer and internet uses are nearly universal among them. Fischer's findings are based upon a return of 118 completed and usable surveys. All most all respondents actively used internet and web pages for their research, news and copyediting.

Based upon the generally acceptable psychological theories of commitment, consistency and crystallization, James Fischer believes that many Internet users see "Web content as creditable simply because such information is showcased on an authoritative looking page." However, Fischer was surprised to find out that a majority of the journalists (69.8%) surveyed were not aware of the seven propaganda devices and techniques used in the media field and 38.6% never considered employing the devices in their personal lives. Further, almost one-third of the surveyed gave any considerations to the concepts of propaganda and or ever basing their opinion on propaganda.

James Fischer's thesis is without any academic jargons or terms. It is a lucid reading. One does not require any advanced knowledge of statistics or psychology to follow the fact that the Internet will continue to remain as the leading vehicle of information and propaganda in years to come. It is the message which will be refined by the messenger through new advances in knowledge processing information by humans. This study is highly recommended for professionals in military and business interested in knowing their competitors' strategies of employing propaganda.


Daljit Singh, LL.M., Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Public Administration
University of Guam